With several teams careening out of contention and others desperately seeking to remain in the race, a number of rookie starters have found their way into rotations. All are receiving auditions for future roles on both big league and Fantasy rosters.
The current trend toward dominant pitching has many of them lighting up radar guns and putting up strong numbers. But Fantasy owners must take it all with thousands of grains of salt in comparing them to veteran mound options. They must also consider such factors as potential hitting support, pitch-count limits and competition that could force them into bullpens or demotions.
It all adds up to what will be referred to as the Pick-N-Play Ranking. Many of the following - starting here with the National League - are free agents in both shallow and deeper leagues. Snagging any of them would be a waste of a roster move if unused or unproductive. The following are worthy of attention (current statistics in parenthesis):
Chase Anderson, Arizona (7-4, 3.15 - 65 1/3 innings, 63 hits, 28 walks, 74 strikeouts): The loss of slugger Paul Goldschmidt for the season severely weakened the Diamondbacks offensively and makes any of their starters a risky proposition. But Anderson seemed to find himself at Triple-A Mobile this season after putting up mediocre numbers throughout his minor league career. He did average a strikeout per inning before reaching the bigs and owns one of the best ratios in the majors since his promotion. He has yielded just nine runs in his last 37 innings pitched, so he might be worth a pickup and active spot against weaker offenses. He is only owned by 41 percent of Fantasy players. Pick-and-Play Ranking: 6
David Buchanan, Philadelphia (6-6, 4.40 - 71 2/3-72-18-49): The mediocrity that plagued Buchanan throughout his career has followed him to the majors. The right-hander surrendered more than a hit per inning in the minors with under six strikeouts per nine innings. He has just four quality starts in 10 outings with the Phillies, who are among the weakest-hitting teams in baseball, and his stuff has proven far from overpowering despite a decent low-90s fastball. If you're looking for a starter, look elsewhere. His owned/start ratio of 6/3 seems about right. Pick-and-Play Ranking: 2
Odrisamer Despaigne, San Diego (3-3, 2.72 - 56 1/3-48-22-36): This Cuban import didn't spend day one in the minors, which makes his immediate future tougher to compute. He has struggled after initial success and filled-out scouting reports with 28 hits and 12 runs allowed in his last 22 innings pitched. His walks-to-strikeouts ratio is also nothing to write about, but he might be worth a gamble with the Padres bats out of their slumber, his shutout performance in his last start and a pitcher's ballpark to work in at home. He should be in more than the current number of 15 percent of Fantasy lineups. Pick-and-Play Ranking: 6
Yohan Flande, Colorado (0-5, 5.36 - 40 1/3-41-11-20): Flande did nothing to make himself worthy of promotion to the Rockies and has done nothing to make himself worthy of attention from Fantasy owners since arriving in the bigs. He allowed more hits than innings pitched at every level since 2009 and put up unimpressive strikeout numbers. He has yet to make it out of the seventh inning in any start, he pitches his home games in a launching pad, and he rightfully boasts an owned/started ratio of 1/0. It would be wise to keep it that way. Pick-and-Play Ranking: 1
Jesse Hahn , San Diego (7-3, 2.52 - 64 1/3-42-28-62): The rather eye-popping numbers here are no fluke. Opposing batters managed a .218 average against Hahn in his minor league career. He has a knack for missing bats, though he has struggled at times with his control. He has shown a propensity to escape from jams. Hahn has yet to yield more than three runs in any major league start, though wildness has kept his innings count down. Padres pitchers should no longer be avoided due to a lack of run support and pitching in Petco is always an advantage. Fantasy owners have been quick to jump on the Hahn bandwagon, as his owned/start ratio of 80/61 attests. It should only go up. Pick-and-Play Ranking: 9
Tsuyoshi Wada, Chicago (2-1, 3.15 - 34 1/3-30-10-30): Wada's fastball generally tops out in the high 80s, but the veteran mound presence of this Japanese veteran places him in a category of dependable starters unlike that of typical rookies. He has allowed just seven runs in his last 25 1/3 innings pitched, so it's no wonder his ownership has skyrocketed from 8 to 23 percent in the last week. Wada boasts a strong assortment of off-speed pitches to keep opponents off-balance and nullify the advantage for batters at hitter-friendly Wrigley Field. The Cubs have become a bit more dangerous offensively with their influx of young talent, so he should receive some support. Pick-and-Play Ranking: 6